After a side-splitting debut at last year’s Hendricks County Fair, the Chopped Challenge returned to the fair this year with more laughs, creative cooking, and most importantly, more resources for those in need. The Hendricks County Food Pantry Coalition has partnered with Family Promise to put on this event to raise money for the people they serve.
The idea of this challenge is based loosely upon the popular TV show, but with its own twists. The contestants in the challenge are split up into teams of four to compete against each other in a cooking competition. Each team is given some basic food items that would typically be found in a food pantry – things like chickpeas, boxed Mac ‘n Cheese, canned tuna, or canned peaches. There are other items available for them to use, but the tricky part is that the audience has to buy these items for the team they are rooting for. Having some crowd support can end up really helping a team out as they put together their dishes.
“It’s hilarious actually, contestants will be trying to get some basic items and they’re at the mercy of the crowd. They’re scrambling to put something together, and bargaining with the crowd for the ingredients they need. At one point I remember screaming out to the audience asking if anyone would pay a dollar for a can opener,” laughed Rebecca Compton, Secretary at the Hendricks County Food Pantry Coalition.
The crowd can also negatively affect the teams they are competing against by buying what are called sabotages. In one sabotage, the team was told they had a crying baby and had to calm it while they continued cooking. So they were handed a 10-pound sack of potatoes that they had to carry in one hand while they worked with the other free hand.
“One of the sabotages I remember from last year was that we had to stop cooking for five minutes. Well, the pasta was cooking during that time period and we had to stand there and watch while it was overcooking into mush. All we could do was laugh at the situation,” explained Compton.
This year there were 16 teams competing against each other for first place. The event, which began at noon on July 16, had four rounds during the day with the winner of each round competing at 7 p.m. for the overall win. A judging panel of local chefs tasted the food that was prepared and declared winners based on taste and presentation.
No matter who won the event, you can be sure that it was full of laughs and will benefit a good cause. For more info, visit 4hcomplex.org and look for Chopped challenge in the events section under the 4-H fair tab.